I grew up in a church where every Sunday service began with a prelude and ended with a postlude. No one ever told me what these words meant, but along the way, I surmised that these were musical pieces played before and after the service. Now, I know that they each mean “before-playing of music” and “after-playing of music”.
So much of our human focus on loss is in the early moments of loss and even of its “prelude”. That is, we remember the moment when we first encountered loss or learned of our loss. We also remember, often traumatically, what we were doing just before the loss (prelude). So much of the enduring legacy of loss, however, is in the postlude. Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that loss is a “good” thing or that we should go out seeking it. That’s never required. Loss becomes part of the human experience in myriad ways, small and large. Given that loss is part of our experience, and given that we tend to focus on the early experiences of loss, we might do well to ask ourselves about the “postlude” of loss.
Consider some experience of loss that was very significant in your life. Looking back on that loss, how are you now different? Who are you now that you were not before the loss? What do you know now, feel now, expect now, deny now because of that loss? However and in whatever many ways you respond to these questions–this is your poslude to that loss.
Postludes in church strike me most when they help me gather up all that has happened during the service and within me, and it helps send me out to resume the path of my life–somehow different, somehow better.
So, the postludes of our losses.